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A Study on Types of Computers – By Purpose

Complete summary on types of computer-based on purpose. General-purpose computers and special-purpose computers.


A computer is a machine that manages information and data. It can save, retrieve, and process information. You may be aware that you can use a computer to compose documents, send an email, play games, and search the Internet. It also allows you to modify or create spreadsheets, presentations, and movies.

Types of Computer-Based on Purpose

a. General Purpose Computer

b. Special Purpose Computer

General Purpose Computer

A general-purpose computer system is one that can be programmed to perform a wide range of functions. Users or devices can interact with general-purpose computers in a number of ways to suit a wide range of requirements.

A general-purpose system’s capacity to run a variety of applications allows it to be highly adaptable in terms of the jobs it can complete. Software may be readily installed, updated, and removed, altering the system’s functioning.

Writing a word processing letter, document preparation, recording, financial analysis, printing papers, constructing databases, and computations are all activities that general computers can perform with precision and consistency.

These computers are often smaller, have less storage space, and are less expensive. The capacity of these computers to execute specific tasks is restricted. Nonetheless, it is adaptable and effective for meeting people’s fundamental requirements at home or in the office.

A general-purpose system often has a large number of inputs and outputs to which it may be attached. For example, having USB ports on a laptop allows other devices to alter the laptop’s capabilities and features.

Because general-purpose systems are meant to handle a wide range of processes, they aren’t always entirely optimised for each activity. Optimization is crucial for some activities!

Computers in general are meant to do a variety of activities such as: – Document preparation

  • Financial evaluation

  • Document printing

  • Input/Output functions at a basic level

  • Database creation

  • Smaller-scale data storage

  • Consistent and accurate calculations.

  • Performing arts in general

Special purpose computer

These computers are made to carry out a specific or specialised activity. The scope and scale of the job depends on the size, storage capacity, and cost of such computers. The purpose of these computers is to do a certain task.

To function effectively, the unique computer requires certain input and output devices, as well as a motherboard that is compatible with the CPU.

Weather prediction, planetary science, farming, engineering, meteorology, satellite operation, traffic control, and pharmaceutical science research all utilize these computers. These computers’ functions are consistent with any certain purpose, i.e., they are meant to do a specific or specialised activity.

  • Thermometers to evaluate temperature are one example of these sorts.

  • Instruments for studying climate change

  • Generators for power management

  • Computers with a lot of memory for IT firms

  • Special-purpose computers are only a few examples.

  • Automated teller machines (ATMs)

  • Computerized traffic-control systems

  • Surveillance apparatus

  • Simulators for weather forecasting

  • Laundry machines

  • Computers controlled by military planes

  • Applications for the defence sector

  • Systems for oil exploration

Computer systems are classified according to their computing speed, utilisation, and hardware. The following are some specialised application-specific special-purpose systems. They make use of

1. Real-time embedded systems Multimedia systems

Small computers with a restricted set of hardware, such as a small processor capable of processing a limited set of instructions (commonly referred to as an Application Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC)), a small memory (RAM or EPROM), and I/O devices, are known as embedded systems. These systems are often used to do certain tasks.

Microwave ovens, factory robots, and the newest vehicle engines are all examples.

2. Multimedia systems

Multimedia data comprises music and video as well as traditional data such as text files, word processing documents, spreadsheets, and so on. It stipulates that audio and video data be handled under particular time constraints. Streaming is the term for this. A video file’s frame rate is commonly 30 frames per second.

Multimedia applications include video conferencing, downloading movies and clips from the internet, as well as playing and recording mp3, DVDs, and VCD discs.

3. Handheld and portable systems

Hand-held systems are tiny portable devices that may be carried about and can conduct standard operations. They are generally powered by batteries. Personal digital assistants (PDAs), mobile phones, palm-top computers, pocket PCs, and other devices are examples. Because they are portable devices, their weights and sizes are limited, hence they have little memory, sluggish CPUs, and small display panels, among other things.

Difference between general-purpose computers and special purpose computers

General-purpose computer

Special purpose computer

It is designed to perform a variety of tasks.

It is designed for a specific application.

It is more versatile.

It is less versatile.

It is less efficient.

It is more efficient.

Programs are temporarily stored in memory.

Instruction is permanently programmed into the memory.

It is comparatively slower than a special purpose computer.

It is comparatively faster than a general-purpose computer.

Example: microcomputer.

Example: to control traffic lights.


The computer has already become an integral part of our daily life. Technology has infiltrated almost every facet of our life. Computers will continue to be useful in all fields till the end of time.A general-purpose system usually has a lot of inputs and outputs to which it can connect. USB ports on a laptop, for example, allow other devices to modify the laptop’s capabilities and features.


Frequently asked questions

Get answers to the most common queries related to the Bank Examination Preparation.

What is a general-purpose computer?

Ans. A general-purpose computer system is one that can be programmed to perform a wide range of functions. Users or ...Read full

What are the application of specific special-purpose systems?

Ans.  1.Real-time embedded systems Multimedia systems

2. Multimedia systems

3. Handheld and portable systems